08 March 18 The Business Times by RACHEL MUI
OCBC is forking out S$87,000 to fund six ground-up proposals addressing environmental issues in Singapore. These efforts range from waste-management solutions to restoring the environment and enhancing biodiversity.
Launched in July 2017, the #OCBCCares Fund for the Environment has committed to provide S$100,000 annually to support projects that enhance Singapore's environmental landscape, "an area where private-sector sponsorship remains relatively thin", the bank said.
"The fact that we can fund six projects at an amount less than our fund commitment is positive indication that initiatives to protect our environment need not be expensive missions. We hope other organisations can also come aboard to support this cause," said OCBC's head of corporate communications Koh Ching Ching.
In total, the fund received 28 proposals for amounts ranging from S$2,000 to S$150,000. The applicants, aged between 20 and 69, hailed from diverse backgrounds.
Half of the proposals received were about reducing waste or enhancing recycling efforts. OCBC noted that this is not surprising, given that Singapore's solid waste output has increased significantly over the years.
According to statistics from the National Environment Agency (NEA), the amount of waste sent for disposal rose from 7,023 tonnes per day in 2006 to 8,559 tonnes per day in 2016 - a 22 per cent surge in waste disposal over the decade.
Separately, OCBC said the process from the launch of the fund to the selection of the final projects took eight months. This included a training workshop to equip potential applicants with project management, financial planning, budgeting know-how and presentation skills.
Shortlisted applicants then went through consultation sessions and interviews with members of the evaluation committee, which was chaired by senior lecturer at the National University of Singapore's department of biological sciences, N Sivasothi, and included representatives from NEA, National Parks Board, PUB and OCBC.
One proposal that made the cut was Project Sarimbun, led by rover scouts Karl Png, Rishab Patwari and Muhammed Syafiq Mohamed Sahrom. Their main idea is to transform the Sarimbun scout campsite into a biodiversity centre through re-forestation and the development of nature trails, among other initiatives.
The #OCBCCares Fund for the Environment will be calling for new entries in July 2018. The fund is open to individuals and interest groups with feasible initiatives dealing with environmental sustainability, OCBC said.